When considering entering or switching employment industries, it is important to assess a job position’s salary. As someone interested in beginning a piloting career, have you ever wondered, “How many hours do pilots work in a week or month?” Both compensation and the work put into your paychecks are valid considerations in the piloting industry. In the content below, we discuss what is a pilot’s average salary, exploring starting salaries and average hours worked.
Private Pilot Salary
As private pilots either fly planes for private customers or taxi corporate executives nationwide, they can take many different job opportunities. Typically, private pilots work for smaller, or private, companies that can result in growing a greater career autonomy.
Before you begin assessing private piloting job positions, you must have already obtained your private piloting license. Alternatively, you may also be in the process of completing your licensure in a piloting program.
Private Pilot Starting Salaries
With the growing need for pilots, starting salaries offer a surprisingly generous range. However, as the salaries range based on the job position you accept, it is hard to generalize a specific salary. Therefore, we list below common starting salaries based on the job position you take.
- Air Traffic Controller: starting annual salaries begin at around $124,450.
- Maintenance Test Pilot: starting annual salaries begin at $67,000.
- Flight Course Instructor: starting hourly wages range from $16-$26.
Average Annual Salaries
Depending on what you privately pilot, your average salary may drastically change. For example, private pilots for jet companies earn an average of $111,800 a year. However, many private jet companies compensate at hourly rates and are unionized.
Private Pilots Work Schedule
The FAA mandates that pilots of any industry do not exceed 1,000 flight hours a year. For numerous reasons, this mandate allows pilots the necessary rest time between flights to ensure safe transit.
Private pilots often experience a more regular and reliable work schedule. For example, a private pilot can find relief in knowing that after eight days of working they will receive six days off afterwards. However, there may be the rare exception of a last-minute scheduling.
Additionally, private pilots get to experience the luxury and accessibility of flying to many private airports around the nation. Therefore, you will experience shorter taxying times during departure and arrival flight procedures.
Commercial and Airline Pilot Salary
While facing a current piloting shortage, you have the unique opportunity to experience a more stable job field. This is especially true for commercial and airline pilots.
Commercial and Airline Pilot Starting Salaries
As a commercial pilot in 2019, the lowest reported starting salaries listed just under $45,000. However, with accrued experience and longevity as a pilot, the highest reporting earnings exceeded $179,440. Therefore, it – quite literally – pays to be a pilot long-term.
Fortunately, exploring careers as an airline pilot proves more profitable from the beginning. When starting a position as an airline pilot, the lowest 10 percent earn less than $74,100. However, the highest 10 percent reported salaries exceeded $208,000. As a result, you will quickly find value in how long it takes to become an airline pilot.
Average Annual Salaries
The Occupational Outlook Handbook for Airline and Commercial Pilots reports the median pay for airline and commercial pilots in 2019 was $121,430, a salary that quickly repays your commercial pilot license investment. Below are a few additional pilot salary statistics as of May 2019:
- The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $147,220.
- The median annual wage for commercial pilots was $86,080.
Commercial and Airline Pilots Work Schedule
Although the salary proves rewarding, there are many skills and requirements needed as a commercial or airline pilot. One of them involves a flexible work schedule and availability. With variable work schedules, commercial and airline pilots may work several days in a row followed by another few days off. However, seniority at an airline company may enable pilots to receive preferred routes and more concrete schedules.
Similar to that of a private pilot, federal regulations limit the minimum and maximum requirement regarding flight hours and resting periods between. On average, airline and commercial pilots fly 75 hours a month and log up to 150 hours each month performing other duties. These duties include checking weather conditions and preparing flight plans.
One thing to keep in mind is that commercial pilots are mandated by the FAA to retire by age 65. While this should by no means discourage anyone from pursuing a piloting career, it should be a consideration depending on your current age. However, even at 65, your piloting career does not have to end and result in retirement if that is not your desire. You can continue your career by transitioning to private piloting or flight instructing.
Begin Your Piloting Journey with J.A. Flight Training
Piloting for either private or commercial careers is a rewarding industry. While receiving fair compensation, you get to explore the world with a front row seat. If now is the time for YOU to start flight school, start looking at next steps!
J.A. Flight Training is conveniently based in Chicago’s western suburb, Sugar Grove. No matter which career path you follow, you can count on experiential learning with the most up-to-date equipment, flight simulators, and aircrafts available. We are proud to offer world-class training that prepares our students for a successful future as a pilot through flexible classes and affordable programs.
If you would like to receive more information about our flight training program, contact us today to get started on your new career path!